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Visitor Perceptions of Captive, Endangered Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus) Used as Photo Props in Jemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech, Morocco

By Kristina Stazaker, Jay Mackinnon

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Visitors to Jemaa El Fna Square can pay to have their photograph taken with Barbary macaques. Our aim was to characterize visitors’ perceptions of such photo props, enabling demand-reducing interventions to be targeted appropriately and destination managers to maintain or enhance the visitor experience. Visitors to Jemaa El Fna (n = 513) were surveyed using a 25-item questionnaire including closed and open questions. Most visitors (88%) neither intended to use macaque photo props nor did; 7% either intended to or did use photo props; while 5% both used photo props and had intended to do so. Moroccans were more likely than foreigners to use macaque photo props or intend to do so. Among international visitors, those who had their photo taken or intended to were younger, with a lower level of education and lower income than those who neither had their photo taken nor intended to. Visitors who did not use photo props pitied the animals’ treatment, disapproved of captivity or exploitation, had concerns over hygiene or safety, and disliked trader harassment. Visitors who did use photo props valued novelty and contact with the animal, although half of them also described negative experiences including trader harassment and animal mistreatment. While 16% felt the presence of macaques makes Marrakech lively and interesting, 40% recognized risks to health and safety, and 57% thought Marrakech would be a better place without macaque photo props. Although 66% agreed the practice should be illegal, 80% were unaware that it is illegal. Only 25% correctly identified the Barbary macaque as endangered. Macaque photo props undermine current conservation objectives and legislation, contribute to Disneyfication of macaques, and may threaten the image of the destination; however, their appeal to a minority of visitors indicates a desire to interact with animals, which visitor education might divert toward more responsible tourism.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 31
Issue 6
Pages 761-776
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2018.1529360
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Tags
  1. Attitudes
  2. Human-animal interactions
  3. Primates
  4. Tourism and travel